Tuesday, March 22, 2011

On laying off the law

Okay, so realizing that the Scopes Monkey Trial and Intro to Intelligent Design 101 are beginning to wane in impact, the Tennessee State Legislature has taken a fresh stab at the top of the Whack Pack with a stab at the scourge of Sharia law.

A proposed Tennessee law would make following the Islamic code known as Shariah law a felony, punishable by 15 years in jail.

State Sen. Bill Ketron, R-Murfreesboro, and state Rep. Judd Matheny, R-Tullahoma, introduced the same bill in the Senate and House last week. It calls Shariah law a danger to homeland security and gives the attorney general authority to investigate complaints and decide who's practicing it.

It exempts peaceful practice of Islam but labels any adherence to Shariah law — which includes religious practices such as feet washing and prayers — as treasonous. It claims Shariah adherents want to replace the Constitution with their religious law.

The people of Tennessee should be proud that their legislature is taking the time and resources to illegalize something that is already illegal. (Read the full text of the bill.)

Let's remember how the law works, shall we? The First Amendment guarantees our right to freely practice our religion of choice (or lack thereof). The Supremacy Clause establishes federal law as the supreme law of the land. This means that Mormons can wear all the awkward undergarments they want, but they can't marry polygamously; fundamentalist Christians can revive in tents for as long as they want and in as many angel languages as they want, but they can't flog their kids for impertinence; and Muslims can avoid pork to their hearts' content but not behead anyone for any reason, ever.

This legislative attempt is coming from two places: one, that anything that Muslims ever do is wrong, wrong, wrong--including dietary restrictions (like those observed by Jews) and foot-washing ceremonies (like the ones that will be performed by Catholics not quite a month from now on Holy Thursday). But if you want to call it Sharia and not kosher, it becomes evil and wicked and should be forbidden (which ostensibly would include, as noted by imam Mohamed Ahmed in the above-linked article, not-robbing banks).

The other reason comes from a place much closer to home: They're assuming that American Muslims want to establish Sharia as the law of the land, because that's what they themselves want to do with their own Christian law. They want to be not even the exception but the rule, so they can't conceive that observers of a religion (in this case, an EVIL HEATHEN religion) might be uninterested in ruling the country--that they might just be interested in praying in peace--and thus all Muslimity must be forbidden at all cost.

So to lay it all out: Punitive beheading or amputation, still illegal. Polygamy, still illegal. Stoning, still illegal. Murder, rape, assault, terrorism, and stealing, all still illegal (but then, they're illegal under sharia anyway). Foot-washing, praying, hair-covering, and no-pork-eating, still legal, and still not hurting anyone. Certainly not as much as depriving children of vital, urgent health care because the Great Physician supposedly has five on it.

And a personal note to Tennessee: Vol State, I spent many formative years in your warm embrace. My brother's awesome girlfriend calls you home, when compelled to do so under threat of violence. Virginia is trying to push women back into back alleys, Georgia has illegal miscarriages and frustrated legislators, and Alabama has outlawed vibrators except when used by cops--you're all I have left, TN, and you have a spotty record yourself. Set a good example for my assorted other home states and step cautiously into the 21st century.

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